While they graduated 10 years apart, international finance experts Michael Clancy, MSIA ’86, and Daniel Laniado Seade, MSIA ’96, have both prospered from taking the American way of doing business overseas.
Daniel Laniado Seade, MSIA ’96, always dreamt of working in business. His entire Syrian Jewish family became thriving business owners after arriving in Mexico City with nothing. But it was watching emerging American retailers help transform his once modest Jewish neighborhood into the Mayfair of Mexico City that showed him how learning the value of the American business model could serve as a path to success.
Laniado’s career blends his knowledge of technology with business. As managing director of the financial services industry at Accenture Mexico, he’s helping transition the global finance company toward a more digitized system while also fulfilling a bigger mission — helping Mexicans transition away from a cash system and supporting the un-banked populations with bank accounts.
Growing up in an emerging Mexico
My family was all entrepreneurs. My grandparents came to Mexico with no language knowledge and no money, and after selling fabrics and clothes door to door, they ultimately became storeowners. My mother raised us six kids while my father started a factory that manufactured food-warming burners used at cafés, restaurants and hotels. My community was huge, entrepreneurial, successful and very forward-looking — I looked up to many people.
My brother-in-law was my first formal employer, my teacher and mentor. While studying technology full-time at college, I worked for him full-time, helping him develop a control system for managing the real estate part of the business. At age 19, I got a head start on my career in this way.
In Mexico, I also learned about economic cycles. The strength of the U.S. dollar and the weakness of the Mexican peso was our main concern for my first 27 years. In the ’70s and ’80s, Mexico encountered devaluation of the peso every six years, putting the country into economic mayhem — we called ourselves “children of the crisis.”
On studying business
Even before studying at GSIA, I knew that to succeed I had to master the American way of business. And working for my brother-in-law, I helped American representatives of large U.S. retailers rent property in Polanco, my home neighborhood. This area became Mexico City’s wealthiest. From encounters with these professional, inspirational people and reading rare copies of Fortune magazine, I started connecting knowledge of business and finance with success. A common thread existed: Everyone had studied business, possessed determination and analytical powers, and imagined a scope to their business much larger than Mexicans did. They knew something I did not — they thought differently from me, in ways I couldn’t yet understand — I wanted to possess that knowledge too.
When exploring my options for an MBA, I’d never heard of Carnegie Mellon. I can still smell and feel the texture of the paper of the brochures I requested. I read and reread the material. I determined I’d become a tech major. Unlike other programs, Carnegie Mellon marketed itself as the perfect place for applying tech to business.
GSIA in the ’90s
I was the youngest of my class at 24, and at Carnegie Mellon a popular saying was: “Everyone is brighter than you.” This dynamic provided an enriching environment. Allan Meltzer [The Allan H. Meltzer University Professor of Political Economy] and Fallaw Sowell [associate professor of economics] were two of my toughest, but favorite professors, along with Ronen Israel, my first professor of finance. My mentor, Javier Lerch, from Mexico, taught information technology.
One big takeaway from my studies was that net present value must be greater than zero — that spirit has been a guiding principle at Carnegie Mellon — everything you evaluate must have a return and an economic or social payback. Anything that subtracts value becomes inefficient.
I also learned from thinking about economics and the role of GDP on unemployment. My professors reminded us that people and families are either suffering or enjoying the results of those statistics. “Never lose sight that you are looking at more than numbers,” one professor said. That insightful advice stayed with me.
I’ve remained in touch with the alumni working in Mexico. I began the GSIA Mexican alumni club and became the president of the Carnegie Mellon Mexico chapter.
As the Martin Mayer book, The Bankers, notes, for decades little has changed in banking, aside from the air conditioning. But with digital technology coming into play, now we are on the cusp of something really great. At Accenture, we believe some banks will become a utility model, while others will become so digitized you won’t recognize them as banks. Those banks that do not realize these changes will remain behind.
One problem we are trying to fix is helping banks cost effectively serve the younger banks by using digital technology. We hope for a system that modernizes banking for millions of Mexicans. I would like to see people forgo cash, used by 80 percent of Mexicans, and help them understand the virtue of banking services. This move would bring security and financial returns to people, help them become more efficient and flexible, so they would not require proximity to a bank in order to make or receive a payment.
- Speak truthfully. Someone who can help you think through your problems with truthful insight is a good leader.
- Avoid spreading yourself too thin, lest you not become great at anything.
- Help people who helped you in your career — this gives me incredible joy.
- Enjoy learning. For me, my career has just started. I’ve got much to learn and much more to give.
Michael Clancy, MSIA ’86, feels that leadership comes early in life — often through sports and other activities, as well as encouragement from parents, teachers and friends. But his studies at the business school in the ’80s took him to the next level and helped him carve out a career in investment banking, in both the United States and Europe.
For 16 years he managed trading and underwriting operations at Bankers Trust, UBS, Dresdner Kleinwort Benson and Merrill Lynch. In 2002, he co-founded Elgin Capital, an asset manager based in London. Clancy was managing partner of Elgin Capital from 2002–2011, at which point he sold the business to Rothschild. Now he co-heads the Credit Fund Management, Rothschild, also in London. He says he’s still using the framework he learned at the business school in the work he does today, as he has in all his jobs.
Son of a Connecticut lawyer
I grew up one of nine children in Connecticut. My dad, a local attorney, and my mother instilled in us a strong work ethic. We all attended private school and college, participated in sports and other activities, often with the goal of giving back something to the community. Whilst in school, if we were not playing sport, we had to hold down a job. From the age of 16, I worked in a gun factory, in restaurants, in a furniture factory and in a saw mill. During summers, I worked the day job somewhere and in the evenings as bus boy and waiter. We split the funding of our college costs with our parents, even though they could afford to pay for it all. Looking back, I appreciate that my parents taught me nothing’s for free.
On a banking career
My experiences at Wall Street gave me tremendous bandwidth, all of which I needed when we set up Elgin Capital. I’ve had responsibilities in Europe, America and Asia and felt grateful for my education and strong analytical foundation giving me the confidence to do this. Elgin Capital had more than €5 billion in assets under management encompassing several business lines; ultimately, we sold the business to Rothschild in 2011. Today, I co-head this business for the Rothschild family.
Running one’s own business involves all sorts of risks and challenges. In an international environment the culture, currencies, languages and regulatory environments are all different. Learning to be open has served me well along with combining realism with optimism.
Many characterize the American culture as a positive, can-do business ethic — having this approach and opportunity, paired with hard work, gave me confidence to go out and start a business.
One common thread that marked my early career was a willingness to voluntarily move laterally within organizations to increase my knowledge and experience. That ethos and willingness to learn more greatly benefitted me.
On his studies
The techniques and quantitative angle we learned in business school provided a steady source of strength in my career — I value the education I received; to this day I find more to learn. Studying forestry at the University of Maine was a wonderful, enjoyable experience — I learned a lot about a different world. However, realism intervened at an early age, and I sought a slightly more commercial, scientific degree; Carnegie Mellon provided me with that.
I especially remember Lester Lave’s microeconomics course, where we applied analytical equations to common business and environment challenges — he made mathematical solutions more logical, applicable and interesting.
I found behavioral studies eye-opening and learned immensely from talking to people actually working at companies. The psychological side of the professional workplace and the setting and managing of objectives, performance and promotions are all things I learned at Carnegie Mellon.
I also grew immensely through the interview process; I came to GSIA straight out of college and had little idea what I wanted to do. Sharing employment information from manufacturing, finance and marketing operations with my peers taught me a lot. I received offers from paper companies, accounting firms, industrials companies and banks.
- Develop leadership qualities early in life, well before business school. Try to assume leadership roles away from school through sport and social organizations. Additionally, emulate leadership qualities you see in your parents and mentors.
- Study what you like and what you need.
- Learn from interviews. Try to gain as much exposure as you can.
- Stay grounded — this quality is essential for all manners of success.
Daniel Laniado Seade, MSIA ’96
Managing Director of the financial services industry, Accenture Mexico
Michael Clancy, MSIA ’86
Co-Head of Rothschild Credit Management, Merchant Banking